View synonyms for assail


[ uh-seyl ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to attack vigorously or violently; assault.
  2. to attack with arguments, criticism, ridicule, abuse, etc.:

    to assail one's opponent with slander.

    Synonyms: malign, asperse

  3. to undertake with the purpose of mastering:

    He assailed his studies with new determination.

  4. to impinge upon; make an impact on; beset:

    His mind was assailed by conflicting arguments.

    The light assailed their eyes.


/ əˈseɪl /


  1. to attack violently; assault
  2. to criticize or ridicule vehemently, as in argument
  3. to beset or disturb

    his mind was assailed by doubts

  4. to encounter with the intention of mastering

    to assail a problem

    to assail a difficult mountain ridge

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Derived Forms

  • asˈsailable, adjective
  • asˈsailer, noun
  • asˈsailment, noun
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Other Words From

  • as·saila·ble adjective
  • as·saila·ble·ness noun
  • as·sailer noun
  • as·sailment noun
  • unas·sailed adjective
  • unas·sailing adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of assail1

1175–1225; Middle English asaylen < Old French asalir < Late Latin assalīre, equivalent to Latin as- as- + salīre to leap, spring
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Word History and Origins

Origin of assail1

C13: from Old French asalir, from Vulgar Latin assalīre (unattested) to leap upon, from Latin assilīre, from salīre to leap
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Synonym Study

See attack.
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Example Sentences

Back in February, he assailed long-term care workers who declined the vaccine.

As warming mercilessly assailed them, I clung to the knowledge that the glacier I knew best remained the exception.

Cordell Hull, the congressman known as the “father” of the income tax, assailed the decision, according to scholar Marjorie Kornhauser.

Certainly, the past year alone has assailed each of us with the fear of covid infection, loneliness, the death of loved ones and sickening instances of racial and ethnic injustice.

Ahead of the vote, GOP lawmakers assailed the legislation as a defund-the-police effort.

Politics seems to assail Carvalho, forcing him to take up former cudgels and defend his corner.

The only group that it was okay to assail, she says, was liberals.

Days later, Al Gore suddenly surfaced after months of silence to assail President Obama for his failure to lead on climate change.

She felt the temptation assail her, as of late it had been assailing her faintly, to explore this territory.

The bishop and his episcopals can not be hair-brained enough to seek to restore old conditions and assail our liberty.

They did not understand this manouvre, and supposed it to signify that the lieutenant did not deem it prudent to assail them.

Without waiting for them to assail him, the youth dashed forward like a panther at bay.

If he wheeled about to assail the buck he was without a single weapon, while the Sioux was doubly armed.